How to Become a Shipwright (With Duties and Average Salary)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 4 May 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Shipwrights create building plans for boats, light vessels, naval ships, yachts and other types of ships that require construction work. They typically create templates for cutting materials and draw reference points for slippery pathways on the docks. Learning how to become a shipwright can help you take the first steps on your career path. In this article, we define the duties of a shipwright, explore steps of becoming a shipwright, provide their national average salary and list some skills that shipwrights might use in their shipbuilding profession.

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What is a shipwright?

A shipwright is someone who works in shipyards to build and repair small and large vessels. These vessels can be container ships, passenger ships, fishing boats, canoes and kayaks, pontoon boats, submarines and other types of watercraft. They can create blueprints that allow other construction workers to follow measurements and guidelines when repairing crafts. For example, if the shipwright wants to build a container ship, they might draw a plan that highlights what materials to use for the exterior design. This is effective for ordering the correct resources and following designs with exact measurements and examples of ship structures.

Shipwrights may also prepare launching platforms to secure big ships ready for pre-launch testing on the waterfront. This is important to test the security of the ship and if it operates effectively. Some shipwrights can supervise the ship's launching procedures to check for inconsistencies in the structural design or engine. For example, if they notice pieces of material falling into the water, they might alert other construction workers about the external defects. Collaborating with others on the team is a good way for shipwrights to discuss safety procedures and other health and safety regulations for people to follow.

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How to become a shipwright

Learning how to become a shipwright is a good way to gain the right qualifications and experience. This role typically requires completing an apprenticeship or traineeship in marine craft construction. This is important for jobs that require heavy construction and vigorous planning. The entry requirements may vary, but employers usually require you to possess a junior secondary school certificate. Here's a guide you can follow to become a shipwright:

1. Complete a level 3 certification

The Certificate III in Marine Craft Construction is a training course that prepares you for this career. You may also earn this certificate during an apprenticeship. This is a good way to participate in practical assignments that help you learn and develop new construction skills. If you want to learn design skills, for example, you can practice drawing pictures of ship measurements that represent the exterior dimensions. A marine craft construction course may teach you about maintenance procedures associated with the development of ships and boats. You can learn how to produce full-size templates and drawings of marine transportation crafts.

During this course, you might receive training from shipwright professionals who have years of experience building small and large vessels and repairing watercraft. They can show you how to use the latest modern technology when building ships. For example, they might introduce you to 3D printing machines that print objects in three dimensions from digital copies on the computer. This is a good way of assembling 3D models of the ships, which can help you get a better understanding of their design and measurements. You can complete this apprenticeship in four years.

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2. Obtain a level 4 certification

If you want to learn more about building ships and working in shipyards, you can complete the Certificate IV in Boating Services. Completing a level 4 certification is usually optional for shipwright jobs. You can also complete this certification on its own, without obtaining level 3 qualifications. This is a traineeship that teaches you how to work safely on marine crafts and highlights the importance of following work procedures when standing on weak structures. Someone in the boating services course may review your training contract to determine if you can meet all obligations.

If you apply for full-time employment in this traineeship, your contract might end after 36 months. This gives you enough time to get the relevant training from shipbuilding professionals. Those in part-time employment can work for a minimum of 15 hours over each four-week period throughout the traineeship. Completing this traineeship may teach you how to complete tasks like managing financial reports for building materials, performing manual heating and checking the efficiency of sails and operating equipment.

3. Apply for a shipwright position

Once you have completed enough practical work experience, you can apply for shipwright jobs in shipbuilding companies. You might discuss shipbuilding opportunities with the employer and how you can learn new skills during your probationary stage. This is important if you want to strengthen your construction capabilities and discover techniques that help you complete your tasks. For example, if you want to develop your mathematical skills, you can study ship templates that have exact measurements and calculates for building materials. You can apply for shipwright jobs in repair sections of ports, boatyards, shipyards and marinas.

Average salary of a shipwright

The national average salary of a shipwright is $164,860 per year, depending on your level of experience, geographical location, construction skills, authoritative position, educational background and pay rates. For example, someone in an entry-level position might earn less than someone who has worked in the shipwright position for longer than a year. You can request a salary increase once you prove your dedication to building and repairing boats and ships. It may be good to discuss salary expectations with the employer and how you can progress in this role. This is beneficial for your career development in the shipbuilding industry.

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Important shipwright skills

Shipbuilding employees may learn their skills during training programs or employment. This is a good way of strengthening their productivity in the workplace. For example, if someone can effectively design ships on 3D modelling machines, they might feel more motivated to use other technical systems when completing tasks. Here are some examples of skills that a shipwright might use in their profession:


A shipwright may have strong communication skills that can help them converse with others about building materials and construction progress. For example, if they notice the lack of materials in the shipyard, they can notify team leaders about what materials are missing and how soon they may require them. This communication is good for monitoring the building progress and keeping documentation of the resources. With strong communication skills, a shipwright can express concerns about the ship's development and advise team members on how to improve the construction. They might suggest new materials or different measurements.

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Shipwrights usually have strong teamwork skills that may help them collaborate with team members during the construction process. If a team member requires support when carrying materials, for example, the shipwright can help them transport the materials to the ship. Teamwork is also important when handling dangerous materials and walking across weak constructions. Effective collaboration with others may encourage shipwrights to help designers create blueprints and support someone who can't complete all their tasks. A shipwright might swap duties with them or show them how to use certain machines.

Time management

Some shipwrights may have time management skills that help them complete building tasks before deadlines. For example, they might plan schedules that allow them to spread their tasks throughout the day. This is a good way to complete small building projects on the ship, such as measuring materials or reinforcing wall structures. Strong time management skills may also encourage a shipwright to reduce distractions when working on the construction site. They can choose times in the day that involve fewer people in the same area.


A shipwright may have good mathematical skills that help them measure building materials. If they want to calculate the dimensions of the ship, for example, they can use numbers to determine how much aluminium they might cut. Mathematical skills can help them ensure they use the correct amount of resources.

With strong mathematical skills, these shipwrights can solve mathematical problems on blueprints and find solutions that improve the ship's development process. A problem might be incorrect prices for materials that disrupt the budgeting plans. Shipwrights can alter these numbers to the correct pricing.

Salary figures reflect data listed on the quoted websites at time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location.

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